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Dragon Boat Festival in the eyes of an elderly man in Pingyao

Updated: 2014-05-30
( chinadaily.com.cn)

Pingyao is a well-known ancient city in north China and has a history going back more than 2,700 years. It was listed as a world heritage site in December, 1997.

Dong Peiliang, 73 years old, is a native of Pingyao. Born in the 1940s, he has witnessed the changes in the Dragon Boat Festival for decades. However, the Pingyao people’s love for rice-dumplings from their hometown never changes. This Dragon Boat Festival, Dong and his wife have made 120 rice-dumplings because their children love this hometown delicacy so much. Dong’s children work in other places. Though they are busy with work, they still spare the time at the Dragon Boat Festival to go back home for a family reunion.

Dong remembers that his family lived a poor life when he was a child. At that time, they just celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival with rice-dumplings made of a little millet and dates. Nowadays, life has changed a lot. Rice-dumplings of various kinds are available in markets all the year round and people can eat them whenever they like. But today’s young people do not show much interest in making rice-dumplings or even do not know how to make them. Dong believes that homemade rice-dumplings have a unique flavor and the process is also very interesting.

It is also a pity that other customs of the Dragon Boat Festival are fading. In the past, each family made "realgar" wine (a kind of alcoholic beverage made from traditional Chinese medicine) and applied a little on the foreheads, noses, ears, hands and feet of children under twelve to repel snakes and drive out evil. Additionally, people wove threads of different colors into one and fastened them around children’s wrists, believing them able to help children grow up safe and sound. But nowadays, such customs are hardly seen at the Dragon Boat Festival. People just hang a bunch of wormwood and some rice-dumplings on doors.

“Fortunately, the Dragon Boat Festival has been listed as a legal holiday in China. Families have time to make rice-dumplings and go to travel outside together. The ways of celebration are gradually changing and family reunions will be more significant to everyone,” Dong says.

 

Dining

Pingyao Wantuo

Wantuo, a type of noodle from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is one of Pingyao's local snacks with a long history.

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